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City's comprehensive plan process draws to a close





Efforts of those involved in bringing the city of Hays comprehensive plan to fruition were recognized at Thursday's Hays City Commission work session.

With the 14-month project drawing to a close, RDG Planning and Design Project Principal Amy Haase presented commissioners with a summation of comprehensive plan, which formally has been recommended by the Hays Area Planning Commission.

Haase of Omaha, Neb., who has been no stranger to Hays for the last couple of years, said she has seen a high level of commitment by steering committee members throughout the process of developing the plan.

"It's really one of the most engaged committees I've worked with in a very long time," she said. "It was a really great group of people."

With 10 committee meetings and approximately eight opportunities for community members to interact with plan designers, RDG also received public commentary through a website throughout the past year.

Haase pointed out in her presentation the issue of housing had been raised by residents frequently during the past year, with many expressing a need for more variety of housing and entry-level homes.

Another recurring theme from residents, Haase said, had been bicycle and pedestrian trails. A separate plan called Bike Hays will be presented to commissioners at a later date.

"It is based on a system that would be a multi-purpose trail and shared right of ways," Haase said. "Markings on the streets that are separate bike lanes that move people around to key destinations."

Steering committee members Sandy Jacobs and Mark Bannister thanked commissioners for allowing them to be involved in the comprehensive plan process.

Bannister told commissioners early on in the comprehensive plan process, consultants had pointed out Hays has many unique features.

"We are a very high quality city," he said. "But we're only going to be that if we continue to look forward and take steps.

"If we sit back and just let things happen we'll be a pretty average city. ... I don't think we as a city should be complacent."

The comprehensive plan will come before commissioners for approval Aug. 23.

Other agenda items included:

* Banking service request for proposals. The low bid of $34,408 from Commerce Bank for a four-year period will be voted on by commissioners at next Thursday's meeting.

* 2013 budget ordinance. Although the city's mill levy will remain at 25 for 2013, assessed Ellis County valuations are projected to increase, bringing in more funds to the city than in 2012. Therefore, to remain in compliance with state statutes, commissioners must pass an ordinance reflecting the increase. They will vote on the ordinance next week.